The creator of the Cosmic sound

The story of Daniele Baldelli

The creator of the Cosmic sound

12-04-2014 | 11.39

The vinyl webstore Discogs lists Daniele Baldelli as a "DJ & producer who is considered a major innovator in the Cosmic Disco/Italo Disco scene for his 'cosmic disco' style of slowing down & hence tribalising records of the era." But there's so much more to say about this Italian DJ legend, who'll be playing at Drukpers this Friday together with Mr. Ties and Job Jobse in De Verdieping. Let's go back in time.

The truth is, there is a lot of myth surrouding the genres of Cosmic Disco and Italo Disco. Daniele Baldelli, the self-titled ‘oldest DJ in Italy’, is widely considered to be the founding father of the Cosmic disco sound. Daniele was born in the town of Cattolica in Northern Italy. At the mere age of 17, Daniele made his DJ debut at local clubs before heading to Baia Degli Angeli, a glamorous VIP club whose DJ booth was in a glass elevator. His performances at this club led to Daniele’s residency at the Cosmic Club by Lake Garda in 1979, which later became famous for its revolutionary disco sound and ultimately, its reputation involving drugs. This is the place where Daniele developed his Cosmic sound, which is not only based on disco, but relies on a blend of many genres such as afro style and playing with the speed of the records. Back in those days, it was common for DJ's to only play at their own club, so being a resident somewhere was taken quite literal.

In the 1970's, being a DJ meant something completely different than it does now. As Daniele Baldelli said about those days: ”I had no mixer, no headphones, nothing. Just 7″ records. I put one 7″ on one turntable, when it was finished, I started the other one. When there was silence in between, nobody cared. People were used to wait for me and the next record."

Daniele was often relentless in his search for the right records and became somewhat obsessed with it. Because he picked out all the records for his sets before the gigs, he wanted every single track to blend perfectly into the next one. This made him spend most of his time listening to his vinyl collection, of which he now has a whopping 60.000 individual records. He said about this in his 2004 RBMA interview:

"The records 20 or even 15 years ago were not electronic. The drummer was a real drummer. Human people were playing. So the song would go up and down. It was terrible to follow a mix. In fact, I had my own idea – or paranoia: All day long, I stayed at home, played one record on one turntable and tried maybe 200 on the other one. Until I found the record I liked to mix in."

In 1980, Daniele Baldelli invented what what was later called the Deejay Concert. Consisting of four turntables, two mixers and electronic drums or live percussion, 80 to 100 tracks were mixed in not much more than half an hour. By doing this, he revolutionized the way in which he could record and play a live megamix. The funny thing is, is that the sets and mixtapes Daniele Baldelli made in the 1980's are quite different from what most people might describe nowadays as Italo Disco. Just listen to one of his early mixtapes like this one; the sound is not as electronic as you might expect, yet almost psychedelic at times, in an age before devices like samplers and MIDI were invented.

By now, Danieli Baldelli is 61 years old, which makes him a DJ for 44 years. Just to compare, the age difference between Daniele and Job this Friday at Drukpers will be almost 40 years! However, the creator of the Cosmic sound definitely didn't get stuck in time, as can be heard in his 2+ hour Boiler Room set last year. 

Want to read more about Daniele Baldelli? Then you should definitely check out this Daniele Baldelli interview with Daniel Wang asking him the questions. A lot of insights into the club scene of Italy in the 1970's with a special role reserved for the Cosmic Club.